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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Today's Special - - Suzanne Ferrell


PJ here. I love a small-town contemporary romance series with a strong cast of characters and an intriguing thread of suspense.  Suzanne Ferrell's Westen series fits that description and with each of the three books in the series published thus far, I have become more invested in this town, these characters and their heart-stopping, heartwarming stories. I just finished reading the wonderful CLOSE TO THE FIRE and, already, I can't wait to see what Suzanne Ferrell brings us next!

Suzanne discovered romance novels in her aunt's hidden stash one summer as a teenager. From that moment on she knew two things: she loved romance stories and someday she'd be writing her own. Her love for romances has only grown over the years. It took her a number of years and a secondary career as a nurse to finally start writing her own stories.

Currently there are two main series she’s actively writing in: The Westen Series, a contemporary small town series based in a fictional Ohio town where “things aren’t always what they seem”, and features Close To Home, Close To The Edge and Close To The Fire.  The second series is the  Romantic Suspense books KIDNAPPED, HUNTED, SEIZED and VANISHED, featuring the Edgars family as they fight for justice, even if it means stepping slightly outside the rulebook.
KIDNAPPED and HUNTED were both Golden Heart finalist, and SEIZED, book #3 in the Edgars Family Novels, was a finalist in the novella category of the OKRWA’s National Reader’s Choice Awards contest.

Suzanne's sexy stories, whether they be her on the edge of your seat romantic suspense or the small town romantic suspense stories they’ll keep you thinking about her characters long after their Happy Ever After is achieved. 

Please give Suzanne a warm welcome!


Close To The Fire is the third book I set in the fictional town of Westen, Ohio. When I started the Westen series I wanted to write about life and love in a small town. Why? Because I was raised in a small town? Nope. I was raised in a medium-to-large sized city, (Columbus, Ohio), but I’d visited many of the smaller towns scattered all over the central-northeast Ohio area. My parents also came from a small town in the Blue Ridge area of eastern Tennessee. Small towns can be close-knit. You know your neighbors and they know you. That can be a good thing and it can also lend itself to all kinds of problems.

The first thing I wanted to do with Westen was establish a central gathering place. Now, this could’ve been the local church or school, but I wanted something more natural where everyone is treated as an equal and didn’t have to worry about their status in the town. What could be more communal than food? And what would be more fun than a 1950’s style diner? So the Peaches ‘N Cream Café became the lynch pin and gossip hub of my town.

With a name like the Peaches ‘N Cream Café the owner had to be a bit on the unusual side, don’t you think? Her name is Lorna Doone, just like the cookie, and she’s run the café since coming to town nearly thirty years ago. She’s a good-hearted soul who loves her town and neighbors deeply, but puts up with very little crap out of anyone. Her food is home-style and the best deal in town. She gives jobs to the homeless or those in need, raises her daughter to be as no-nonsense as she is and dispenses advice—wanted or not—when she thinks it’s needed. (I see my mom a lot in Lorna.)




Another character in the town is Harriett. For some reason she hasn’t got a last name, or at least no one in town has told me what it is, yet. (I’m thinking there’s a story there, don’t you?) Harriett is a nurse. She only uses enough words to get her point across. Taciturn is the best way to describe her. I rarely base a character on any one person I know, but in Harriett’s case I did use a former nursing friend as her model. That Harriett only said STAT twice in seven years of working together and she meant it both times. I let her read the scenes where Harriett drives Doc Clint a little crazy in CLOSE TO HOME, book 1 of the series, and she said, “Yep, that’s me.” (Nailed it!) She liked being in a book.  My Harriett’s a no-nonsense woman, gives orders to the patients and expects people to do what she tells them. Very few people in Westen argue with her…well, maybe Doc Clint.





Every small town has its local law enforcement, mostly an elected position. In CLOSE TO THE EDGE, I introduced the sheriff, Gage Justice. Yes, that’s his name and the heroine, Bobby Roberts gets a kick out of it. Bobby’s an outsider who literally drops into town and opens up a whole can of trouble. I’d tell you more, but you’ll have more fun reading the book.

If you’ve ever lived in or been to a small town frequently, you know that another big hub of activity is often the beauty salon. I decided it was time to introduce my readers to Westen’s salon in CLOSE TO THE FIRE. It’s a place where social worker Libby Wilson takes one of her older clients to have her hair done. A town like Westen needed a salon with a cute name, so I asked my FB fans to help name it. We had tons of suggestions, but I finally chose the Dye Right Salon. It’s run by Twylla and all the ladies in town, young and old, come there for their hair care, pedicures, manicures and extra gossip.

Speaking of Libby, she’s been in love with Deke Reynolds, the county fire chief, for more than ten years, but the death of her brother in a fire that injured Deke and another secret have kept them apart. Even in Westen there’s a time limit to stubbornness, as Lorna would say. It’s been a hot, dry summer. Things have begun to smolder.  All it takes is a little kindling to get things burning.

Readers, do you like a thread of suspense in your contemporary romances?

Do you enjoy small town romance?

What's the hub of activity (or gossip) in your town?

Do you like a hero in uniform? Fireman? Police Officer? Military? Something else? 




Close To The Fire  Buy Links:
Twitter: @SuzFerrell

45 comments:

  1. Yes, I love small town romance with suspense or not is fine. Love cowboys, firemen, cops, attorneys, construction types, military. Varied. LOL. And you gave me a new author to check out. This series sounds good. Thanks.

    Patoct

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patoct! When I started the Westen series, I'd thought to write a sweeter story, but dead bodies and suspicious people kept popping up! :) I hope you'll write and let me know if you liked the books or not!

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  2. Hope you'll enjoy the series, Patoct!

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  3. Yes, I'll keep an eye out for your books.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, JCP! The covers alone are worth looking at, aren't they? I have the best cover artist in the business. :)

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    2. Yes, you do have an excellent cover artist! :)

      Hope you'll give her books a try, jcp. I highly recommend them!

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  4. I do like small town romances. Added suspense and a hero in uniform are icing on the cake. I haven't read any of this series yet, but it looks like one I would like.

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    1. LOL, Cheryl! You think like me. I make this german chocolate bundt cake that's too die for by itself, but to make in sinfully good we squeeze some caramel ice cream sauce on each slice. OMG! It's sort of that way with Westen. Good by itself, but add some shady goings on, a dead body or burning building and it just gets better!! :)

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    2. Okay, just reading that cake description made my hips spread. LOL!

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    3. I feel the same way, Cheryl, about the uniform, the suspense and the cake! :)

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    4. PJ...for you...One box German Chocolate cake mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil. Mix. Then mix one tub of the coconut-pecan topping INTO the batter. Bake in Bundt pan for 1 hour @ 350. OMG!

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    1. What's your favorite small town series, Quilt Lady? BTW love your name. Do you quilt by chance?

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    2. Me too, Quilt Lady! I love the characters and the setting in this series. Driving through small towns in Ohio last week on my way home from visiting family I found myself looking around and wondering, "Could this be Westen?" ;-)

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  6. Thanks for having me, PJ. So glad you've been enjoying the Westen books and all the townfolk! Some of them have become like friends to me and I love hanging out at the Peaches 'N Cream Cafe with them! :)

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    1. Always happy to host you, Suz! I love hanging out with your characters too! :)

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    2. Okay, not to give anything away, but did you read Cleetus and Sylvie's discussion about greens? :)

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  7. Suz, congrats on your new release! I love small town romance and can't wait to read this next installment. I grew up in a small town, and the gossip hubs there were the two gas stations, the soda shop, and, to a lesser extent, the library. The town was so small that the fire department was all-volunteer. They tested the siren every Monday at 8 pm.

    I do love heroes in uniform, pretty much any uniform. I have a weakness for naval guys because my parents met in the navy.

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    1. Hey Nancy! Thanks for the kudos. It's always exciting and nerve-wracking to send our literary babies out into the world!

      My parents home town was like that. Problem was the outlying towns in the county were too far away for them to get to the farms up in the mountains, so a couple of my uncles convinced the town to set up a second rural station and it was run by volunteers, too.

      I dated a guy in the navy a while...he was a fireman on the ship. :)

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    2. Nancy, I also love a man in uniform. The late dh was Air Force but I've had a thing for Navy guys in dress whites since seeing Tom Selleck in uniform on Magnum, PI. Yum!

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  8. Hi PJ! Hi Suz! How lovely to see two of my favorite people together in one spot. I think The Romance Dish is a bit like a small town - a very nice one! Here in Australia, the fashion has been for rural romance which has many of the qualities of American small town romance. Small, close-knit communities, a slightly old-fashioned feel in the nicest way, sincere, emotional stories. No wonder that style of contemporary is really touching a chord with readers. Suz, congratulations on the release of CLOSE TO HOME!

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    1. Hey Anna C! Glad to always chat with you and PJ has the nicest sunporch to sit and nosh and gossip on, doesn't she? In the Westen series I've tried to make the town friendly, inviting and quaint, without making the townfolk appear backwards or caricature-ish. More like visiting with quirky old friends.

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    2. Hi Anna! I've always enjoyed the Australian rural romances and I agree with you. They are very similar to our small town stories.

      Suz, hope you're enjoying all the deep cushions and comfy chairs on our porch. ;-)

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  9. Hey Suz! Love your wonderful Westen Series!! (My autocorrect always wants to make that either western or Westin like the hotels!) Ha! So excited for this new story. Yay! Obviously, I love suspense, and yours in particular. Grins. Love small town stories. I'm from a small town and the post office and the little general store are the hub of gossip and activity. The COmmunity Center would LIKE to be, but they're just too "green" - get the best news at the post office. Hope there will be many more Westen stories to come!

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    1. Jeanne, OMG...now I'll have to add the small post office in one of the books. The next one is going to introduce Willie Mae's bakery (No cute name yet.) And I've had much confusion by people thinking the series was a western...okay maybe if you live on the East coast it could be considered WesteRn. And yeah, I've dodged the WestIn since I've been to a few of those hotels. (Very nice hotels.) Hope you'll enjoy this one as much as the others!

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    2. Love the idea of a bakery! When I was in high school we had a bakery in our small town that was definitely a hot bed of community gossip!

      Jeanne, the Post Office in my hometown was too small to be a hub and had a postmaster that kept his lips zipped. Drat!

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  10. I must admit I don't read a lot of contemporaries but the added suspense makes it something that would be a plus for me and I do like to mix it up. Any hero in any kind of uniform is also enjoyable. I live in the suburbs so not a lot of to do or knowing about what's going on with too many neighbors lol.

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    1. Catslady, I read some straight contemporary romance, but having some suspense added tends to draw me in faster. But then, I like suspense in my historicals, too! :)

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  12. Great post, Suzanne! Waving madly to PJ! Hi!!!

    I love a suspense or thriller thread to my romance stories, the darker the better.

    I also enjoy the idea of a hub for gossip or activity in a book and have noticed it's a common trope in TV shows. I'd like to see a library as a hub of gossip in a YA story. I think that would be fun.

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    1. Hi, Jo! I totally agree with you on the library as a hub, especially in a YA though I think it could work in any genre.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Hey Jo!

      I love your darker romance stories.They always keep me up late and turning pages. And I agree a library as a hub for teens, especially geeky teens that have to fight mythological or magical creatures might be really cool!!

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  13. Love Suzanne's books. Yes, I like a bit of suspense in my romances and do love a small town setting. Enjoy stories of men in uniform.

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    1. Hey Debbie!!! Glad you found PJ's blog. She has the best guests, reviews and tons of info about romance books and authors! You'll love it here! I'm thinking of taking up residence out here on her sun porch!

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  14. Hi Suz and hi PJ!

    Suz, I love these descriptions of your town--and I love how you talk about your characters. I grew up in a small town, and that's what I'm writing and I love small town stories almost always. I think, though, that we choose the best of the towns to build our stories around.. I'm not entirely sure all small towns are created equal in that I think some of them are more "open" or perhaps open-minded, and others are just plain more closed.

    The town I grew up in never felt closed to me, but it never grew in spite of the efforts of the local Chamber of Commerce. Fifteen years later I was there and had to go to the hardware store for my mom. They treated me HORRIBLY. They didn't recognize me of course. The old owners had retired and the new "kids" running the store didn't even consider that maybe they were being rude to one of their own. (Or maybe when you leave, you're NOT one of their own any more, eh?) Anyhow I said to Steve, "I can't believe how awful they are here now." And he said, "They were always that way honey. You just didn't know because you were from here."
    Well....I have found that some small towns are not that way. They're actually friendly. And those are the ones I want to write about--and READ about. Got CLOSE TO THE FIRE on the Kindle and can't wait to dive into it. Wonderful blog y'all!

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    1. Oh thanks, Cassondra! I always had such a fun time visiting my parents' hometown, of course most of the people we met when we visited were related to us in some form or fashion. (That's what happens when you're from two big families!) But I suspect some people were more open than others. When I was writing the first two books of the series I had to decide what kind of town Westen would be. I decided it would be more fun to have it be a place where you could fit in and once you did...well, you were a townfolk for life, no matter what!

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  15. sometimes like suspense and small town books

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  16. Two things I like in the stories I read are suspense and humor. Depending on the type of story, the dose varies for what works best. I grew up just outside a small town in the Adirondack Mountains of NE NY and now live about 10 miles outside one along the Blue Ridge Mountains of NE TN, probably not far from where your parents grew up. I don't get into town often, but when I worked at the library in a neighboring town, we certainly got our share of gossip. I think it is probably true in our little town, too.
    Heroes in uniform work just fine. Most people that go into those lines of work have many of the characteristics we look for in a hero or heroine. However, anyone can have this qualities and qualify to be a hero or heroine.

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    1. Hey Librarypat! I suspect you're correct about the towns. In fact, my parents' hometown just had their big apple festival this past weekend! You just gave me an idea for my series..how about a bookstore for gossip?

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    2. That would work. I was the children's librarian at the Unicoi County Public Library for 8 years and worked the Apple Festival for every one of them. Ours was not a quiet library and most people came in to visit as well as check out books. Small world : )
      So few towns, especially small towns, have book stores anymore. It is unfortunate. Big Stone Gap does have an interesting book store. It is a used book story with a small coffee shop on the first floor of a victorian house. The owners live upstairs. They have a swing and a table and chairs on the porch. It tends to be a place for people to gather and music to be sung. The owner has a NPR show on celtic music. The place had a very home, relaxed atmosphere. This would be a good one to model a story on. You need another road trip. They have a celtic festival in September and it is where Adriana Trigiani grew up.

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  17. Thanks for visiting with us today, Suz!

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  18. I love small town romances... one I like is Marilyn Pappano... LIke police or firefighters. I don't think I have read any of your books yet I will look them up...

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